metal on metal. hard hooks
striking sparks from each other
as they cling curve to curve. hot
only in the sense of heat
like a man slicing open his horse’s body
and curling his limbs around the organs
still pulsating. body to body. two flints
rasping white fire from their lips
scraping grit from the gap
you and I, we are hooking up
tomorrow we will fill the ears of our peers
with burning oil in the shape of our words.
they will express certain emotions,
and we will reply in words clipped
of the long barbed feathers used for flight.
you and I, we hooked up
. as I said,
metal on metal and flint on flint.
the flesh coiled around your backbone
did not give way under the rasping crook
of my hands. if it had I would have dug in
and clutched a hookful of meat
still marbled with lust, swallowed it down:
it would have clung like a lump to my gut walls,
but the strength of its bloody mass
would have carried me on through these heatless days.
I won't pretend that this is an uncommon experience. But how it's affected me since is, I think, at least to me, unusual in its intensity and longevity. So I would like to explain this poem, and how it came to be so bitter.
I was sixteen. He was twenty-three. Isn't that how all the best stories start?
-No, I didn't think so.
It was a party. Our friend's twenty-third- well, at the time, he wasn't my friend as such, just my sister's boyfriend. I was... naive, shall we say. I'd had one boyfriend, and then only for two weeks when I was fourteen. I'd never kissed anyone properly. Never felt passion. Never even thought that someone might be attracted enough to me to kiss me like he did-
Oh, damn, that kiss. The imagery I used in that poem probably seems a little too extreme, a little too intense. But that's the closest I could get to how it was- or, rather, how I see it now.
I'd never been kissed like that before, and haven't been kissed like that since. True, I've had my fair share of passionate- and passionless- kisses in the months since that party, but never so longed for and never so intense. I didn't mean for this node to become so fragmented. I'm sorry. But even now, when I think about him, I feel sick with the knowledge that he doesn't want me.
And there we are! Melodrama. I hate it. I suspect I'm safe enough here, where even if he read it he wouldn't recognise either of us. I hope.
After that night at the party- he led, I followed, and believe you me it went further than that kiss outside in the early morning light- he didn't ask for my number. At first that didn't occur to me. Like I said, I was naive, innocent. It wasn't a situation I'd ever been in before. The walk home, and all the day, was hazy with recollections of the night before- and, I'll admit it, regret that I'd stopped him getting carried away.
Twenty-three! I was dizzy with it all.
I got his number through our friend, the man whose party it had been, and texted him. He didn't reply. A few days later, I texted again, and this time he did reply: I don't remember what. This continued. Finally, finally, I sent him a message on Myspace- something like- Look, this not replying is really odd. If you want me to let it go, just tell me. When I think about the reply I can feel my gut contract. In a weird place- not fair on you- oh, and oh. And there I guess it should have ended. But it didn't.
Another party, August, three months on from the first party. I was seventeen, he was twenty-four. I barely recognised him when he walked in through the kitchen door and met my eyes. We both looked away. I don't know what I was expecting, but
for the rest of the night he didn't even look at me. After he'd gone I sat on the table in the garden, round the corner from where everyone was standing and talking and laughing, and crumpled up into my black-and-cherry-printed dress like the little girl I was. The little girl I am.
Another party, a few days on, this time in Wales. Very drunk and lying on my friend's bed. Phone out. I hope you know how terrible you've made me feel, and a spouting of melodrama spewing out between our phones. A reply the next day- shocked him into replying, I suppose: I'm sorry that you feel that way.
A phone conversation. Not fair on you. Can't do this. Meh. Meh. I laughed it off and we said goodbye and then, I suspect, I cried.
Believe me, if I could rip him out of me, I would. But traces remain. I can still feel like a bolt of lightning the first time we met each other's eyes outside in the dark, his body shaking above mine, my head on his chest. I was stupid. A stupid little girl who really, really should have known better.
And that's not the worst of it. I can't kiss a man without comparing them to him, can't get through a day without the memories biting at my heels. Of course I've had other hook-ups since then (no relationships, that goes without saying), but none that matters, now, as much or in the same way as that one.
I'm sorry; I lied. If I were able to rip him out of me, I wouldn't. As I said. A hookful of meat still marbled with lust. Through these heatless days.
I do not believe in love at first sight.
your chest was a slab of wet cement
across which her hands left dimpled smears
in the shape of a valley
gouging its way
down a rain-bathed beach. when you breathed in,
ripples crept across your sodden skin,
and spat damp grout
into her eyes.
in the porous chambers of your body there are globules
of gritty water scraping at arteries,
and scouring the guilty marks
tracked their way across your soggy bulk.
but of course, when it rains,
the pellets of liquid shot
carve furrows in your flesh,
and their paw-prints are whittled smooth.
in time, you might have dried and flaked away
in shreds of clay so dry
that it catches at the back of my throat,
and cuts into every breath.